Over the last few years, Syfy has redoubled its efforts to embrace the science fiction part of its original conceit by ordering or renewing a string of hard science fiction (and, yes, other genre) shows from the critically well-received 12 Monkeys and The Magicians to Dark Matter and the recent hit Killjoys. This fall, the effort continues, as the cable channel brings in the terrifying anthology series Channel Zero, and next month it will premiere Incorporated, from executive producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
Big name producers can often be a boon for a fledgling series, as an association with someone like, say, J.J. Abrams certainly doesn’t hurt when it comes time to start marketing a new program. Abrams’ name has been attached to a number of high-profile genre shows over the years. Couple the Abrams name recognition with that of Jonathan Nolan and, well, you have two hit series in the past few years: Person of Interest and this fall’s big budget genre-bender Westworld. Admittedly, Abrams’ name carries a certain connotation – that of big, flashy science fiction and, more recently, galaxies far, far away. The same is certainly not true of Affleck and Damon.
In a sense, though, that’s part of what makes Incorporated a fascinating endeavor and a show to keep an eye out for when it premieres in late November. The early marketing isn’t shy about the Academy Award-winning duo’s involvement, and with the pair also being marquee names on two of the most recognizable franchises around – Batman and Jason Bourne, for those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past few years – the names Affleck and Damon all but ensure some level of “I don’t care what it is, I’ll watch it” enthusiasm from the show’s potential audience. The only question is: can Incorporated keep the viewers coming back after their initial curiosity has been sated?
From the look of the new trailer that Syfy released, the series appears to have a solid mix of social commentary and technophobia at the ready, along with a stellar cast that includes Julia Ormond (Mad Men), Dennis Haysbert (24), and Damon Herriman (Quarry), alongside its main protagonists. Set in the year 2074, when corporations run the world – so it’s not too different from today – Incorporated tells the story of young executive Ben Larson (Sean Teale, Reign) who has infiltrated The Corporation at the hear of the series in order to save the woman he loves.
While the motivation of the Larson character might be a bit too familiar for some viewers, the appeal of the series comes from the larger world building opportunities and, yes, the chance at commentary with regard to the increasingly large role faceless corporations play in our daily lives and in politics. The series also sports an ultra clean aesthetic that’s not dissimilar to the 1997 Andrew Niccol film Gattaca. If nothing else, Incorporated provides a welcome visual change from the ugly dystopias and wastelands of so many other sci-fi stories that aim to present a depressing future.
Whether or not the names Affleck and Damon are enough to get people to tune in will be of as much interest as whether or not the series is any good. At any rate, Incorporated has plenty of time to remind potential viewers who had a hand in making the series come to life.
Incorporated premieres Wednesday, November 30 on Syfy.